Why Do Cops Always Support Other Officers?
Why Cops Always Support Other Police Officers
One of the things that we are constantly asked about is why police officers never call out bad cops. If there’s just a few bad apples, then all of the other police officers should rally against them, right? The idea of the thin blue line defending their own, no matter how reprehensible their actions are, is all but common knowledge among the public. However, things aren’t that simple. We’ve listed out the reasons why you never see cops criticizing other cops.
5. Officers are prohibited from publicly expressing their opinion
Police officers are public servants, and any time they say or do anything, they are representing their department. If a police officer were to publicly speak out about the actions of another officer, it could be interpreted that the officer was representing their agency’s opinion. Most departments have policies that prevent officers from speaking publicly to the press, restrict how they can use their personal social media accounts, and often-times officers are disciplined for things that they say in a one-on-one conversation.
Police officers need to keep their jobs to support their families more than they need to call out another officer who did something wrong. Because of the fear of losing their jobs, it’s very rare to hear a police officer publicly voice their opinion in support or opposition of another officer.
4. Unions are legally obligated support officers
Police officers aren’t individually allowed to speak publicly about the actions of another officer, but their unions are. If you ever see a news report where law enforcement is publicly supporting an officer for their actions, you might want to look at the source; it’s probably the union representative.
Unions are legally obligated to defend all of their members, no matter how harebrained their actions were. Most police officers can think of at least one other officer who they believe deserves to be fired, whether it be for sick leave abuse, laziness, or stupidity. These officers have to watch their union fight tooth-and-nail to keep people who should have been long-gone.
3. Departments don’t want to lose in a lawsuit
If there is an incident that is likely to result in legal action against a department, the department won’t want to admit fault. If there is an awful event where the police department is clearly at fault, and the police department makes an apology, then you can expect the department will end up paying for that apology when the lawsuit gets pushed through.
2. People already hate police, and pointing out other police officers’ mistakes won’t help
Have you ever just met a person and had them accuse your of murdering black people? I hope not, but it happens to me when I’m working. For the record, I have never killed anybody.
Whenever a police officer takes any action, or is perceived to have taken any action, the public views that as an action by all law enforcement officers. With hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers in America, odds are that somebody is going to screw up, and the rest of us will get blamed for it. Not only that, but police officers are accused on a daily basis of doing things that never happened, so we are combating imaginary events as well. Once rumor spreads, there’s no stopping it.
For whatever reason, the public does not generally view police officers as individuals. We’re all just the same badge and gun to them. If a police officer points out the bad actions of another officer, then they are just opening themselves up to be attacked for the other officer’s actions. It’s often preferable to just not openly discuss these topics with the public.
1. Police officers are usually right
The number one reason that police officers don’t criticize other cops is that 9 times out of 10, the other officer’s actions were correct.
The public does not understand the how or why of police use-of-force. We don’t expect them to know, because most people will never have to experience combat in their lifetime. Our parents don’t understand how dangerous it is to prolong an encounter with somebody who is actively resisting arrest. Our siblings don’t understand our experiences in seeing people pull weapons out of their waistbands. Our neighbors don’t understand how difficult it can be to control even a small person who is fighting with everything they’ve got. We don’t expect the public to understand these things, because they don’t have the same training and experience that we do.
When a new video is released on an officer-involved-shooting, our own spouses may watch the video in horror, “Can you believe what that officer did?” Yeah, I do, I would have done the same thing in his shoes. Police officers can usually figure out what the officers in these videos were thinking. 4 out of 5 officers are likely to look at the same video and have the same opinion. The public doesn’t understand that mindset, so we keep our mouths shut. Occasionally somebody has seen too much to remain silent, and when they speak up, they violate reason 5 (see above.)
Police officers do disagree with the actions of other officers all of the time. Usually it’s about mundane stuff, such as how a report was handled, but it’s also on many high-profile incidents. It’s not uncommon for police officers to get together and watch some of these videos, expressing their disagreement as they watch. “Oh, that officer thinks that the guy has his Tazer. He’s getting too far away to use it even if he had it. I can’t believe that he just shot that guy! Oh, great, now it looks like he’s realizing that he screwed up and is trying to cover it up.”
Please share this article to help promote understanding between law enforcement and the public. Let’s work to lower these barriers and have open discussions when serious events occur.